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Biomechanics

Biomechanics

 

The Universe of Horses

Let’s face it: what do we, who work with horses every day, really know about the complex processes in horses’ bodies? Have we grasped this intricate system in its entireness?


Inherent crookedness has become a buzzword in the training of horses. The fact that crookedness causes many movement problems and health issues is beyond dispute.

When it comes to dealing with the horse’s inherent crookedness, a variety of crash courses is offered, and many are tempted to make do with superficial training methods. However, such methods become dangerous when, blinded by short-term success, we fail to see the big picture and the horse’s movement problems reappear after a short while.

In our daily work with horses, we are constantly facing new challenges. However, training horses for decades has given us a key to understanding the universe of horse movements: their biomechanics.


The Horse – a Flight and Steppe Animal

In order to protect themselves from their natural enemies, horses have a particular ability: speed. Horses are flight animals, and neither domestication nor breeding have changed that. To this day, the flight instinct is deeply rooted within all horses.

When keeping watch (and preparing to flee should the need arise), horses raise their head. Thus their shoulders are pressed down by the trapezius muscle and the main body weight is brought onto their forehand.

When the horse panics and flees, adrenaline is released, his hindquarters are pressed down to the ground as long as possible to release maximum thrust which enables the horse to flee fast. Thereby, his back is arched down and his hindquarters are stretched backward.

Keeping watch

Keeping watch

Panic

Panic

Flight

Flight


Such behavior is completely natural and only becomes a problem when a rider’s weight is brought upon the horse’s back. If over a longer period of time, a horse has to carry a rider’s weight while at the same time carrying his main weight on his forelegs, problems are prone to occur and often medical treatments ensue.

The trapezius muscle presses the horse’s shoulder down.

The trapezius muscle presses the horse’s shoulder down.

When being ridden like that, health problems are prone to occur.

When being ridden like that, health problems are prone to occur.

A downward-swinging back causes immense strain on the horse’s joints.

A downward-swinging back causes immense strain on the horse’s joints.